India’s continuing shame in Punjab


by Sunny
23rd October, 2007 at 3:23 am    

ReportThis week Human Rights Watch and Ensaaf published a report on the Indian state of Punjab, saying the government has failed to take concrete steps to hold accountable those who killed, “disappeared” and tortured thousands of Sikhs during its counterinsurgency campaign in Punjab during the 1980s and 1990s.

The 123-page report, “Protecting the Killers: A Policy of Impunity in Punjab, India,” examines the challenges faced by victims and their relatives in pursuing legal avenues for accountability for the human rights abuses perpetrated during the government’s counterinsurgency campaign. The report describes the impunity enjoyed by officials responsible for violations and the near total failure of India’s judicial and state institutions, from the National Human Rights Commission to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), to provide justice for victims’ families.

Beginning in the 1980s, Sikh separatists in Punjab committed serious human rights abuses, including the massacre of civilians, attacks upon Hindu minorities in the state, and indiscriminate bomb attacks in crowded places. In its counterinsurgency operations in Punjab from 1984 to 1995, Indian security forces committed serious human rights abuses against tens of thousands of Sikhs. None of the key architects of this counterinsurgency strategy who bear substantial responsibility for these atrocities have been brought to justice.

“Impunity in India has been rampant in Punjab, where security forces committed large-scale human rights violations without any accountability,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “No one disputes that the militants were guilty of numerous human rights abuses, but the government should have acted within the law instead of sanctioning the killing, ‘disappearance,’ and torture of individuals accused of supporting the militants.”

The full report is here. HRW has also uploaded video interviews and a photo essay.

I also want to clarify my own stance on this issue. While I have been dismissive of Sikh separatists and Khalistanis generally, because of reasons highlighted in this report, it doesn’t mean I have no sympathy for what happened in 1984. Of course I do. And I’ve always been critical of the Indian government’s human rights record towards Sikhs and other minorities (including Dalits, Christians and Muslims). I just have little time for those who want to establish countries based on religions. Anyway, this is not meant to be a discussion on the viability of an independent Sikh state. This is about human rights violations.

I also think that its about time non-Khalistani Punjabis and Sikhs started making more noise about this issue because it gets hijacked by the likes of the Sikh Federation UK, who have their own political agendas. And that not only turns off those who would support such campaigns, but also makes it easier for the Indian government to ignore them and thus continue denying Punjabis any justice.


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  1. sonia — on 23rd October, 2007 at 11:38 am  

    Thanks for the links. thank goodness for human rights watch.

    Clearly whilst treatment of “minorities” in India is something to look out for – I would say in India, human rights is a issue probably for the ‘majority’ as well. are human rights abuses only significant if they happen to a ‘minority’ population?

    this seems to be a given for many people. or perhaps people who are ‘minorities’ in some way, look out for the treatment of other ‘minorities’. who knows.

    There are massive human rights issues with regards to women, and in India – people who are poor, as far as i can see, actually are the majority of the population.

    In any case, to me – whether someone is considered a member of a ‘minority’ group or not, or a ‘majority’ group, doesn’t make a difference, its what happens to the individual person, not the ‘group’ per se, or the size of that group.

  2. Sofia — on 23rd October, 2007 at 12:23 pm  

    I agree with Sonia.
    India seems to getting away with all sorts of abuses where no one bats an eye lid..in fact if sometimes I bring it up with certain Indians then they say i’m being unpatriotic (my parents are Indian), and often accuse me of bringing these things up because i’m also Muslim and therefore anti Indian anyway..I can’t win…
    Anyway on a separate note, did anyone see the programme on female infanticide on BBC2 yesterday…

  3. sahil — on 23rd October, 2007 at 12:33 pm  

    A good article, and sometimes too many people still think India is a fluffy place full of diversity and tolerance because it is the ‘largest’ democracy in the world. Still I’m not holding my breath on any form of accountability, but hope people keep sticking this in the governments face to actually get them to admit something did actually happen.

  4. Sid — on 23rd October, 2007 at 12:47 pm  

    I concur with Sunny. Human Rights are inalienable and should not be subject to politicisation. Great article.

  5. Parvinder — on 23rd October, 2007 at 1:11 pm  

    Thanks Sunny for highlighting the ongoing cases of human rights abuses pertaining to the period 1984-1995 in the Punjab, India. And you are quite right to say that we should all raise this as a human rights tragedy not just let the separatist use it for their own ends. I spend a lot of time in India, and no one there, especially Sikhs talk about having their own nation, but they are all at one in fighting for justice and human rights.

    Sofia, I did see the programme about female infanticide and I think the beeb, despite all the recent negative issues, should be congratulated for producing a very good and informative programme.

    To think that a country which bangs on about its forward march is the most backward in terms of the disgusting practice of dowry. The leads many to abort female babies. And it’s not just the poor who are doing it. The middle class are also at it so that ‘the boys can carry on the family name’. The most shocking bit I found was when they filmed dead fetuses, many quite grown and clearly babies, in a mass grave behind an ultra-sound clinic. The government outlawed these clinics a while back but peoples mindset is still set in the middle ages. Punjab, with one of the highest rates of female infanticide now has a shortage of brides so this whole bullshit screws up the boys in the end. And to thinks, this goes on in the land of the Sikh gurus who outlawed the practice 300 years ago ! They even went further and asked that we should blacklist such people.

  6. Sofia — on 23rd October, 2007 at 1:30 pm  

    Parvinder, totally agree with the dowry thing..it’s sick..outlawing it has not been enough, there needs to be a massive cultural shift against it…and religious leaders could play a real role in this..instead of sitting in their mosques or temples and preaching to the preached.
    I cried all the way through the programme, it was not one of those awful documentaries, but honest and raw..showing it like it is…

  7. Sid — on 23rd October, 2007 at 1:31 pm  

    It’s a shame this issue will not be picked up by our friends on the Left (forget the Right), that it won’t be a talking point on left-leaning blogs.

  8. Jakey — on 23rd October, 2007 at 2:44 pm  

    India has got to be one of the worst places for human rights despite being the largest democracy. It’s a total disgrace all those guilty of human rights abuses against Sikhs haven’t been brought to justice. Don’t hold your breath, the Congress government isn’t to do much because most of the ministers involved are Congress ministers.

    If the events of Operation Blue Star weren’t bad enough what about the thousands of poor Sikhs who were killed after Indira Gandhi was assassinated? In India there seems to be one rule for Hindus and another for the other religious minorities.

    What is worrying is that institutions like National Human Rights Commission and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are not totally neutral. Neither is the Indian media, which often doesn’t even report sectarian clashes. A neutral media is an important part of good democracy.

  9. sonia — on 23rd October, 2007 at 2:58 pm  

    yes india is only the ‘largest’ democracy because there are so many damn people, a lot of whom have absolutely no say in anything.

  10. sonia — on 23rd October, 2007 at 3:04 pm  

    good point sofia, as ‘desis’ abroad, if we say anything..ooh! out come the full force of the ‘patriot’ argument.. oh can’t say anything that makes “it” look bad..blah blah. everyone seems to have forgotten there prob. was a reason why they left the dear homeland. why was there so much immigration? because everyone knew/knows full well if you weren’t born as part of the elite, progression would be something pretty difficult. (oh yes things are quite different in india now, there is a rising middle class. so that is one positive thing. doesn’t seem to be the case in bangladesh though)

    in my parents case, they are so patriotic they could never deal with being immigrants, so went ‘back home’ – so actually, i have less hassle with them, because they are in the thick of it now. But i know full well, that had they not gone ‘back home’ they would prob. be the same too. so now i get it from my elder sisters instead.

  11. Sofia — on 23rd October, 2007 at 3:16 pm  

    Tauba Tauba, you mean they left you alone in a “foreign” country all by yourself?? oh sonia how do you cope??
    joking aside…even the middle classes make me mad..reminds me of the two ronnies sketch with john cleese where they talk about class.
    I feel more understood as a ” minority” in England than i do in India, over there i kept getting asked where i was from and that was before i opened my gob!
    Anyway,on the programme, they showed a woman who was married to some rich bloke who forced her to have an abortion because he wanted a son, so it isn’t just something the poor are dealing with…let’s face it..Indian families and pakistani families practically son worship. I heard of a family here where the father got banged up for fraud, and the sons got banged up for drug dealing..and get this..the daughter was stopped from going to university. Crazy!

  12. Neet — on 23rd October, 2007 at 5:58 pm  

    Up until very recently I would have quite easily described myself as a Khalistani. But I’ve started to become a bit disillusioned by the whole concept. For example; do the majority in Punjab want it, what would it mean if it was created (i.e. for non-Sikhs), would the people of Punjab be in a better position than present etc. But then on the other hand what can be done about the human rights abuses that occur over there? Pressure groups like Amnesty can only do so much and the Indian Government are the perpetrators of these crimes. So what real options are left for the safety and progress of the people of Punjab?

  13. Kuldip Kaur — on 23rd October, 2007 at 6:13 pm  

    Human rights issues to be brought up in UK Parliament on Tuesday 30 October. Understand that Brad Adams, Asia Director at Human Rights Watch will be speaking in Committee Room 18.

    Event is being organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group for UK Sikhs and Gurdwaras and Sikh organisations throughout the UK.

    Hope lots of people will make it to the meeting, lobby and candlelit vigil.

    See the following link for more details:

    http://www.sikhsangat.com/index.php?showtopic=31503&st=0&start=0

    Appears many politicians may be taking part.

  14. Jakey — on 23rd October, 2007 at 6:21 pm  

    Its funny how after any terrorist attack on a mosque or shrine, the police in India systematically rule out involvement of Hindu miscreants. They do this despite the fact there is evidence to show hard-line Hindu groups have increasingly been experimenting with bomb making in recent years. Instead the police usually target the usual suspects (Islamic terrorists) without any proper evidence. They say the same stuff about having information that an attack was likely, they interrogate people from Bangladesh or Pakistan who may have been in the area and come up with something to blame a foreign mastermind. All the while the Indian media goes along with this bullshit without actually asking any serious questions.

    When the victims are largely Muslim or Sikh or Christian why is it that there isn’t such a major public outcry? This isn’t the case when the victims are Hindu. Then the self-styled Hindu leaders like the Modis and Thackerays rise to the occasion. All goes to show there are different yardsticks when dealing with terrorist attacks on different communities.

  15. KSingh — on 23rd October, 2007 at 7:25 pm  

    It is organisations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty that have highlighted attrocities on minorities and the poor. The Indian media self censor and the foreign media have this romantic of India as a place of non violence and democracy and never cover India. This malaise caused the 1984 massacres and Gujarat massacres in 2003, and it could easily happen againd due to the silence of the world and impunity given to the guilty.

  16. Raul — on 23rd October, 2007 at 9:08 pm  

    This thread should be titled India’s continuing shame. This is how the India state behaves unless you are well connected. Not unlike a feudal society. So the solution is not Khalistan or Kashmir, after all you have the same bozos in charge, so no point exchanging one group of corrupt self serving indivisuals with another unless some on you are naive enough to think that independent states change the entire character of people.

    Talk about the Bhopal tragedy, the pandits in Kashmir, n number of injustices that routinely happen or any group of people who need the state’s assistance, it never comes, the Indian state serves only itself.

  17. Vladimir — on 23rd October, 2007 at 10:57 pm  

    People seem to be suggesting that there is some sort of contradiction, in abuse of human rights and being a democracy. There are numerous countries who like to label themselves as a democracy , yet abuse human rights, and I am referring to western countries too.

    The point about India is that considering what many were predicting about it in the run up to its independence, and the unfortunate events that occurred due to partition, it has remained a united, and democratic country. Though human rights and democracy is not the same thing.

  18. sahil — on 23rd October, 2007 at 11:11 pm  

    ” Though human rights and democracy is not the same thing.”

    I totally agree but I’ve been to so many places where people are arguing that India is a great place because it is the ‘largest’ democracy in the world. But what about accountability?? Is that not just as important as the vote?? People were killed by state forces and no answers have been given as yet, that is simply not acceptable in any way.

  19. Vladimir — on 23rd October, 2007 at 11:32 pm  

    There is a lot of deluded people talking about India and its potential greatness, though its not usally to do with it being a democracy but due to the size of the country, and its potential due to that size thus the emphasis is more on it being large than a democracy.

    With regard to human rights, there is numerous other issues that would concern anyone who thinks human rights should be upheld in India, and this is not just about 1984 and its aftermath. I am not too sure why the 1984 issue gets significant coverage, when there are so many other human rights issues that should concern India. Though I do understand 1984 and that questions need to be answered, though thought the Nanavati commission attempted to do just that.

  20. Laban Tall — on 24th October, 2007 at 12:41 am  

    Sunny : “I just have little time for those who want to establish countries based on religions”

    That’s unfortunate. Ever read the Head of State’s Coronation Oath ?

    Archbishop : Will you to the your utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England? And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?

    Queen : All this I promise to do.

    Then the Queen arising out of her Chair, supported as before, the Sword of State being carried before her, shall go to the Altar, and make her solemn Oath in the sight of all the people to observe the premises: laying her right hand upon the Holy Gospel in the great Bible (which was before carried in the procession and is now brought from the Altar by the Archbishop and tendered to her as she kneels upon the steps), and be brought saying these words: The things which I have here before promised, I will perform and keep. So help me God.

  21. douglas clark — on 24th October, 2007 at 12:54 am  

    Laban Tall,

    Bloody hell. That is disgusting.

  22. KSingh — on 24th October, 2007 at 7:15 am  

    Countries found on religion that is in effect what India and Pakistan became at partition despite what they may say in constitutions that nobody cares about. Pakistan went to Muslim elite and India to a Brahmin elite.

    That is why India has a problem with all the other communities that do not fit with the ideas of the Brahmin elite that dominate all positions of power.This includes the Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, Dalits and Hindu poor.

    Human rights groups have stated that thousand of minorities have been killed in Punjab, Kashmir, Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram etc over the last 20 years.

  23. Arif — on 24th October, 2007 at 9:15 am  

    I disagree with K Singh, it is not religion which decides that political enemies can be disappeared or extrajudically executed through “encounters” whch never get investigated. It is politics and our own complicity as citizens. If politicians and citizens want to appeal to a tribalist impulse based on religious identities, again, it is our responsibility not to be taken in by it.

    We aren’t going to solve this problem by blaming religion, as the most anti-religious States have their own human rights abuses and patriotic justifications for oppressing minorities.

    State agents benefit from tacit impunity and that’s the important issue the report seems to raise for me.

  24. Laban Tall — on 24th October, 2007 at 9:29 am  

    Be fair, KSingh. The original independence ideal was for one multi-faith India. It was Jinnah who persuaded the Labour administration of 1947 that a two-State solution was preferable.

    Jinnah believed that Muslims could not live peacefully as a minority in Hindu-majority India. At a Muslim League conference in Lahore in 1940, Jinnah said:

    “Hindus and the Muslims belong to two different religions, philosophies, social customs and literature… It is quite clear that Hindus and Muslims derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have different epics, different heroes and different episodes… To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority, must lead to growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a state.”

    So 1947 Labour believed that a large Muslim minority threatened the unity of a state. 2007 Labour would doubtless consider anyone holding such views to be a swivel-eyed Nazi. Just one of those historical ironies I guess.

  25. Parvinder — on 24th October, 2007 at 9:46 am  

    No. 12 Neet said
    “do the majority in Punjab want it, what would it mean if it was created (i.e. for non-Sikhs), would the people of Punjab be in a better position than present etc. But then on the other hand what can be done about the human rights abuses that occur over there?”

    I think that if there was a referendum in the Punjab during the period 1984 to 1990 then the Sikhs would have opted for independence. The events during this period were such a shock to this hitherto patriotic people that their whole existence, even in their own state was threatened. I would argue that in the period, you couldn’t blame ordinary Sikhs for calling for Khalistan. The 1989 state election actually returned a majority of candidates who had links with the independence movement. Many were not serious about it, for them, it was a matter of survival and the Indian state were not giving them any way out. But after this period, the various militant groups became infilitrated by both police spys and criminals and this really pissed off the local rural population hence the support for them was withdrawn.

  26. Parvinder — on 24th October, 2007 at 10:28 am  

    No. 19 Vladimir said:
    “I am not too sure why the 1984 issue gets significant coverage, when there are so many other human rights issues that should concern India. Though I do understand 1984 and that questions need to be answered, though thought the Nanavati commission attempted to do just that.”

    It gets coverage, although the Indian state tries to belittle it most of the time, because if you were a mother in Delhi today, having seen your husband and son burnt alive and daughter raped, the people responsible are still walking the same streets you are walking day in day out for 23 years, and the politicians who organized these massacres remain immune from prosecution and a police force either looking away or actively taking part in the massacres,… would you not want this issue have COVERAGE !

    In the Punjab, there are thousands upon thousands of missing, innocent victims, many not even involved in any militant activity, picked up in the dead of night and murdered.

    The Nanavati commission of 2005 you refer to was a whitewash. Although it said some local Congress party workers were involved in the 1984 November massacres it said it wasn’t organized, when all the evidence points to the contrary. The main organizers are still untouched, and the state is just buying time with commission after commission.

    Vladimir, you are right though, there are also other human rights issues that need covering, the 2002 massacres in Gujarat, the rise of female infanticide throughout India, the growing gap between the new middle class and the poor. These all are important as is the issue of 1984.

    So much happened in the decade 1984 to 1995 which has yet to come out…
    Please check out the 5 part video ‘1984 Sikhs’ Kristallnacht on
    http://www.youtube.com/1984TruthandJustice

    As well as the report of the same name:
    http://www.solarider.org/dld/Kristallnacht.pdf

  27. Ruby — on 24th October, 2007 at 5:06 pm  

    India is only a semi-democracy. It has the institutions and processes of elections, a separation of powers, free elections, that kind of thing. In truth, the level of corruption, lack of accountability, and tacit acceptance of state power, means that the reality is for many people, India is a tyranny. Politicians and state players are complicit in massive human rights abuses. I’m glad that India has the democratic processes it has. But the levels of horror perpetrated by the state, means India has a long way to go until it can be a true democracy. Democracies don’t kill and torture their own citizens, for a start.

  28. Jagtar Singh — on 24th October, 2007 at 10:17 pm  

    No 26.

    Parvinder Singh hope you and other activists can make it to the lobby and candlelit vigil on Tuesday 30 October at the Houses of Parliament.

    Visit http://www.sikhsangat.com for more information

  29. Sukhi — on 24th October, 2007 at 10:48 pm  

    Jagtar Singh — what does lobbying for separate ethnic monitoring for Sikhs in Britain have to do with remembrance for 1984? You are, as usual, using this as an excuse to piggy back a separatist ideology and trying to use the rhetoric of multiculturalism and the issue of these Human Rights abuses to create an atmosphere of separatism here in Britain.

    I am going to e-mail all those MP’s you have contacted and listed on the sikhsangat site and inform them about the role of the Sikh Federation in the protests at the Birmingham Rep a few years ago. When making play on the rhetoric of freedom of speech and Human Rights it’s important that organisations like yours, which are commited the theocratic separatism, are placed in the correct context. It is also important that your comments about using any means nessecary to gain attention and power and encouraging Sikh youth to be angry and militant made in an interview with Eastern Eye newspaper are highlighted to show just how selfish, separatist, and irresponsible you and the Sikh Federation are.

  30. Sukhi — on 24th October, 2007 at 11:01 pm  

    The aim of separate monitoring which the Sikh Federation is lobbying for has a number of motivations.

    Firstly, to encourage an ambience of separatism between Sikhs and non Sikhs in Britain.

    Secondly, to enforce a political Sikh identity on all Sikhs regardless of how they personally identify themselves and reduce them to a flock of sheep and deny their multi-faceted identities and reality.

    Thirdly, to leverage the power of the Sikh Federation in claiming funds from central government and entrench differences in British society at a time when government and community cohesion should be oriented away from this kind of separatism.

    Fourthly, to bolster the standing of the Sikh Federation and other Sikh separatist organisations to claim discrimination, and play victimhood politics.

    Fifthly, to marginalise non political, non sectarian, non Khalistani, non communalist Sikhs in terms of how their voice is heard in politics and mainstream society — despite the fact that these Sikhs form the overwhelming majority in Britain — the silent Sikh majority. In the face of an organisation like the Sikh Federation, which actively participates in communalist politics and has links with proscribed organisations, accepting the terms of this would be a betrayal of democratic liberal secular principles, and a betrayal of the majority of the Sikh community in Britain.

    This proposal would be inimical to progressive politics and community cohesion in the UK. It is vitally important that the separatist agenda of the Sikh Federation is opposed by all those who believe in an harmonious and integrated Britain, and all those who oppose narrow communalist identity politics.

    Using the tragedy of Human Rights abuses in Punjab to piggy back this agenda on is disgraceful.

    This is the message that I urge anyone who is so inclined to make clear to Hazel Blears and all government agencies associated with community cohesion. It is what I will be doing, and I urge everyone else who opposes separatist communalist politics to do the same.

  31. Mangles — on 25th October, 2007 at 1:14 am  

    Sukhi

    Sorry to say, but you seem to have lost the plot somewhat.

    Firstly the human rights abuses that were carried out by the Indian state were politically motivated. They were spurred by the desire to reduce to a whimper the voice of political self-determination of the Sikh minority and Punjabis. Do you think that the state, which is heavily constructed against the Sikh minority, carried out the excesses for fun?

    Why did, as earlier posted, the Indian intelligence services infiltrate the separatist political movement and then carry out excesses in their name? Because the people of Punjab had seen the light and were en-mass supporting the self-determination of their region.

    If the Indian executive can carry out the massacre of Chittarsingha in Kashmir during the Clinton visit under the watchful glare of the world media, then is it beyond reason that the bombing of an Air India plane from Canada, killing mainly Sikh passengers is also a conspiracy hatched by Indian RAW agents? In a case brought against one senior police officer it has become apparent that at least 300 innocent young Sikh men were killed in Punjab to cover the identities of their ‘CATS’ or agents who had been carrying out kidnap, murder and other crimes as Sikh separatists to malign the Sikh separatist movement, and then the police officers who killed these young men collected lakhs of rewards for killing so called ‘militants’. Many of these ‘cats are now in hiding abroad as well as in India probably still employed as agents.

    If these excesses and terrorist activities were actually being sponsored by the Indian state, then is it progressive politics to proscribe groups at the behest of states such as India or China, or is it progressive politics to put in place sanctions as were instigated against Saddam Hussain for killing his own people and South Africa for denying the rights of its majority population through apartheid. Your type of progressive politics would have shunned Mandela and the ANC and bought as gospel the word of Botha and the Baathists.

    I wish the Sikh Federation well in their efforts and hope that others find the courage to continue to raise a voice against the formidable so called progressive politics that is today bolstered by unethical trading positions in the world economy. The reality of the situation is such that many of the activists that are steadfast in denying the farcical democracy that India is, do so at huge risk to their own careers and to the lives of their families and relatives in Punjab. You only have to look at how opposition leaders such as Simranjit Singh Mann are denied the right to travel abroad, and imprisoned for months on end for alleged ‘secessionist’ peaceful protests, and the truth of the matter hits home that the repression of democracy has still not ended in Punjab.

    That is the reason why there is still a dormant clinging to the idea of Khalistan in Punjab. Carry out a straw poll today of how people in Burma feel about civil rights and you will find not many willing to stand up and be counted after several weeks of repression. Punjab has seen the wiping out of a near generation. Congress MP’s have put the number dead at over 200,000 in Punjab in the decade spanning the mid 1980′s to the mid 1990′s. Can we really expect people to come out waving flags and shouting for their rights? Even in so called democratic elections corruption is so rife that the Elections Commission routinely re-routes police postings and so many drugs and alcohol are given out as bribes that it further fuels the addiction that is gripping the state of Punjab.

    The whole point of positioning ‘cats’ in every pind and nagar was that people of Punjab don’t know who is watching them – Punjab is not a free state. The people of Punjab know that their time will come. If 500,000 can court arrest so that they can have a state based on linguitsic boundaries, then the time of the people of Punjab will come. So called progressives would have also called a Punjabi suba divisive and playing to communal politics, even though the people of Punjab were the only state denied a linguistic state status after Indian independence.

    Sukhi tell you what, lets all deny our identities and pretend that we are all members of the same homogenous human race and there is no discrimination in the world and peoples rights are not abused etc etc. Tell Hazel Blears what you want, after all the treaty’s that India has signed with Britain are much more strenuous in abating political dissent amongst NRI’s than your letter to some MP’s will be.

    Why don’t you also write to the same MP’s and tell them that I think it is immoral that millions of people are denied a basic education just so that some generals can flex their muscles over their neighbours with their nuclear arsenal. And that it is inhumane that whole villages can be ransacked and their women raped simply because they were born in the wrong caste. And that the Indian constitution denies all its religious minorities their right to determine their religious identity simply because they are not born Hindu. And that whilst quite rightly majority community Hindu religious cities are legally protected from slaughter houses – tobacconists and distilleries can be licensed within religiously founded cities of the Sikh faith.

    If there are any other ideas you need to write to MP’s about just say and I am sure God willing, someone will be able to provide help.

    Rab rakha!

  32. KSingh — on 25th October, 2007 at 7:31 am  

    Sukhi what are going to do about the human rights of Sikhs, the title of the post? Apart from issues you have with the Sikh Federation there seems to be nothing else.

    It must be noted that South Asian communist/left organisations in India and the UK either are silent on the abuses or support India’s abuses against Sikhs.

  33. Parvinder — on 25th October, 2007 at 10:20 am  

    KSingh, I agree. The failure of the left both here and in India has allowed lobby groups like the Sikh Fed to take up this issue. It true, for so many years, the left in India, in the guise of the CPI (M) because of their supporting various Congress coalitions tended not to bring these issue up and this was shameful.
    In the UK, some sections of the labour party closely aligned themselves with the Congress also. Things are slowly changing though. While I was in India in 2005 when the Nanavati report was released, a lot of the media, especially Indian TV took up the issues and were telling the story of 1984 through the eyes of the families for the first time. A number of films like the highly acclaimed ‘Amu. have also been released on the subject. Nevertheless, justice for the victims is still not been served so we must carry on.

    A lot of what ‘Mangles’ has said vis-a-vie the Indian state and its treatment of Sikhs is true… it’s what you do that matters.

    I think it was Marx that said that ‘The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.’ Those who regard themselves not in the camp of the Federation (of which I count myself as one) should take note of this.

    Sukhi, you are right in many ways and have taken note of all your points, but rather than just concentrating on what the Sikh Fed is doing or not doing or their motives, we should look at how to bring the story of Punjab’s human rights abuses to the world by using existing secular organisations.

    I have worked through my union, the National Union of Journalists, for the past few years pushing for this issue and have had some success but a lot more needs to be done. I would therefore welcome people like yourselves, Sunny and other like minded progressives to carry on taking up this issue, under the banner of human rights, especially with the Media because time is running out for some of the families still waiting for justice.

  34. Sofia — on 25th October, 2007 at 10:34 am  

    I remember the reason why my folks didn’t buy a house in Delhi was because of the riots…they felt that if something similar happened in the future they wouldn’t have a hope…
    All politicians in this country seem to be obsessed with is courting shilpa shetty, kashmir and indopak relations…

  35. sonia — on 25th October, 2007 at 11:18 am  

    i think we’ll find most indians are silent on india’s abuse of indians. across the board!

    sikhs are ‘indian’ too last time i looked. given that india has the interesting situation where any ethno-linguistic group, say – bengalis, if they compare themselves to the ‘rest of india’ – are a minority. and so on and so forth, gujaratis vs – ‘the rest of india!’, punjabis vs the ‘rest of india!’ marathis vs the ‘rest of india’! we’re all going to be minorities by that count.

    main problem is human rights abuse of individuals, full stop, in India. abuse of the powerless by powerful. and yes, we all need to focus on this more – what is interesting is how NGOs are so full of international types while all the foreign educated indians are working at Vodafone or Citibank or the bloody IMF and World Bank.

  36. sonia — on 25th October, 2007 at 11:20 am  

    alright, not all, but generally speaking the charity/third sector across the world is woefully short on desis full stop.

  37. Sofia — on 25th October, 2007 at 11:31 am  

    how about the charity sector in Britain…i keep getting asian ppl asking if i’m a volunteer or do i actually get paid for what i do…and the third sector is not seen as something to aspire to…they don’t realise quite how competitive it can get…and the skills and qualifications that are necessary

  38. Muzumdar — on 25th October, 2007 at 11:41 am  

    Just a quick correction:

    It must be noted that South Asian communist/left organisations in India and the UK either are silent on the abuses or support India’s abuses against Sikhs.

    It must also be noted that the CPI (M-L) Naxalites were/are not only vocal about the human rights abuses, but some sections also supported the idea of a Sikh State.

    That will be all.

  39. sonia — on 25th October, 2007 at 11:53 am  

    this is what we also might wanting to be thinking about:

    Poor but defiant, thousands march on Delhi in fight for land rights

    “Some 25,000 of India’s poorest people – tribal peoples, “untouchables” and landless labourers – have stopped traffic for nearly three weeks on the road that links Delhi and Agra, home to the Taj Mahal. Headed by a group of chanting Buddhist monks, the marchers say they aim to shame the government into keeping its promise to redistribute land.”

  40. Parvinder — on 25th October, 2007 at 12:08 pm  

    Good story Sonia. India’s economic sucesses is throwing up all sorts of other problems and contradictions. I always thought it was too early for Indians to start singing ‘Chak de India’ !

    I always look forward to Randeep Ramesh’s correspondence for The Guardian. You may have seen his one recently on the Human Rights Watch report also
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/india/story/0,,2193909,00.html#article_continue

  41. sonia — on 25th October, 2007 at 12:16 pm  

    yep Sofia, you’re right. that’s kind of what i was getting at, i work for a charity, and of course its a sector which is not very well paid so i can see why generally a lot of people aren’t able to work in it for very long etc. etc. but still, its sort of viewed as ‘not a proper job or a career’ by the auntie/uncle establishment set. my rellies are always like, your sisters are doctors, what happened to you, when will you get a ‘real’ career.. heh.

  42. Sofia — on 25th October, 2007 at 12:27 pm  

    Sonia, yes totally understand that..just makes me more bloody minded though..

  43. sonia — on 25th October, 2007 at 1:46 pm  

    yes india the largest democracy indeed:

    “”There are 120 million people who have no rights in this country,” says Balkrishna Renake, chairman of India’s national commission for denotified, nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes. “They are still waiting in independent India for the right to vote, to have schools and teachers, and for their land.”

    never mind “unheard” voices of peop,e these people themselves dont even “exist” in the eyes of the state

  44. Sofia — on 25th October, 2007 at 2:48 pm  

    maybe if the minorities quit with the minority mentality, put aside their differences and actually united..there might be a shift..
    wishful thinking perhaps??

  45. Ravi Naik — on 25th October, 2007 at 3:07 pm  

    “Also the key issue is that people forget that there is no real concept of ‘India’ there have been kingdoms and stately provinces but the concept of an Indian State spanning the geographical plains that the current entity covers is only one that emerged after the end of British raj.”

    Not true. The Maurya Empire under Ashoka’s rule pretty much covered the whole of India.

    “I don’t believe that India it its current form can continue; it will either break into many independent states or evolve into a federal structure with greater powers and freedoms”

    It can continue, and should continue, as long as people respect each other, as they should in a secular contry. If multiculturism is applied here, why shouldn’t it be applied in India?

    “I think Sonia’s point sums up the reality of India. It is has always been a country of have and have nots. Whetether it was the mughal era, british raj and now independent India, there are those who rule and those that are ignored; those that control and those who are subjugated.”

    I think the most important part is to remove social barriers that prevent people from going up the ladder. Castecism is despicable and it will take time to get rid of it. But I am very optimistic about India. There is definitely something different between the independent India of this millenium and the one before.

  46. sonia — on 25th October, 2007 at 3:30 pm  

    yep i think there is something definitely different in india now. more and more people are realising they don’t have to stay in the narrow boxes they have been forced into, all these centuries, and that keeping up “traditions” usually ends up perpetuating those boxes.

    and thank goodness for that. Unfortunately, equally large no. of Indians are as traditionalist as ever – and the ever increasing Indian diaspora groups are often – unfortunately contributing towards this trend.

    still, always be optimistic, but lets be realistic too. we can be all those at the same time.

  47. sonia — on 25th October, 2007 at 3:36 pm  

    What I find really interesting is how when the subjugation is seen to be done by someone of a different ‘race’ or group ( like Sahibs, or the ‘Indian govt’ vs. Punjabis or some other ‘minority’) – then it is considered problematic and a lot of energy goes into it. otherwise, the ‘inter’- ethno-linguistic group oppression e.g. high class high caste bengalis/gujjus/punjabis/marathis and their servants and lower down boxes (within the wider above b/g/p/m group),women etc. don’t seem to matter so much to the wider social psyche.

    interesting innit. i guess we dont like being bossed around by outsiders, our own ‘authority’ systems i suppose we expect to be bossed by. or perhaps have managed to internalise.

    like the preferred and ultimate oppression unit as it used to be in the sub-continent : the extended family clan.

  48. sonia — on 25th October, 2007 at 3:37 pm  

    sorry – i meant ‘intra’ ethno-linguistic group oppression, rather than ‘inter’

  49. Sofia — on 25th October, 2007 at 3:49 pm  

    maybe a question of dharma

  50. Mangles — on 26th October, 2007 at 1:41 am  

    The secessionist movement was also too slow in condemning and stopping atrocities by some of its compatriots. Taking of life is too high a price to pay for ones liberty, albeit many thought it was the only way to defend themselves/families; others got usurped by feudal politics. All these factors weakened the separatist movement and allowed for infiltration and confusion and ultimately the loss of public goodwill. This presented an opportunity too good to miss for the Indian state machinery. And you’re quite right genocide +; any means necessary to hold Bharat Maata together despite its unnatural construction.

    Pakistan and Bangladesh appeared relatively overnight. Similarly, the USSR also tried in vain to hold its various components together and failed miserably. Hence in my opinion a realistic optimism that there is hope not only for Punjabi or Sikh separation but also for greater rights for other linguistic or ethnic groups.

    The point however, that I was making with regard to lack of critique of the spin and spew that comes out of India etc referred to the utter brown-nosing by Indian-based, and often Western-based Asian press and journalists of Indian politicians. Seldom, possibly never are Indian politicians challenged by our so called press and journalists. How is it that senior Indian police and other officials implicated in Human Rights abuses such at those reported by Asia Watch and Ensaaf, are allowed to visit the Uk or other Western countries without any scrutiny or journalistic challenge of their actions and credentials?

    When for example are we to expect the sort of questioning that Sikh campaigning organisations received in this thread to be relayed to Mr Manmohan SIngh next time he visits the UK on a state visit? When are our journalist friends going to ask Mr Brown and Mr Miliband about safeguards/conditions/ethical clauses they are applying to treaties with India to hold India to account for 1984 et al, or to improve the opportunities for those that live in the depths of poverty, or those whose very existence is not even acknowledged in India let alone respected ?

    For this reason it appears that politicians and bureaucrats are above the law in India, and the sort of standards one would expect from the British based press, be that Asian or mainstream, are not applied to Indian dignitories when they visit foreign soil.

    Thank you for acknowledging that India is but a fictional colonial entity. Though Ravi seems to have got lost in the point of Ashoka, whose empire emerged over 2000 years ago, and even then this wasn’t seen as a consolidated state but as he put it part of an empire.

    Ravi if India has not been able to shed the shackles of casteism in thousands of years it is unlikely to shed this evil and barbaric social enslavement simply because India is in a new Millennium. Those who are enslaved by the snare of caste have seen Millenniums come and go with no change. If anything the economic success is paradoxically pushing Indias poorest and socially excluded further down the social ladder than they have ever been.

    Sonia – minorities and minority mentality. Sounds like the sort of thing we might hear from the far right about those ‘bloody immigrants’. ‘Lets scrap those race laws and make them intigrate and teach them the Queen’s mother tongue; Just put up with it’. Lol.

    Interesting point about intra subjugation and extended families. Though I don’t understand the point Sonia that you make regarding intra subjugation and hierarchy of Human Rights abuses in Punjab. There were all sorts of social divisions in say for example South Africa but the abuse by Indian/Asian middle classes of Africans was seldom cited as the reason why Apartheid was successful. Are you infering that all are subjugating someone or another so people should just put up with it? Is a hierarchical model some sort of excusing of Human Rights abuses ? Or are you saying people shouldn’t complain that a couple of hundred thousand people were killed in Punjab because they wouldn’t have complained if those killing them had been Sikh?

    As it happens those killing them were not necessarily outsiders or Hindus. At the time of the most intense killing the Chief Minister and Head of Punjab Police were as it happened Sikhs. But the issue remains that the state failed to safeguard the political and civil rights of Sikh secessionists as well as many innocent bystanders in Punjab, because of executive draconian laws that were applied to the state and people of Punjab and targeted at the Sikh community. And now the state and its agencies are unabating in their efforts to resist judicial process because the responsibility for these genocidal crimes lies at the door of the elite. Hence this thread about a report on Human Rights abuses in India.

  51. KSingh — on 26th October, 2007 at 9:26 am  

    Some Further reports on human rights

    Amnesty International

    India: Punjab – Twenty years on impunity continues – Amnesty International Amnesty International (AI) is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights. URL: http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/ENGASA200992004

    India: A vital opportunity to end impunity in Punjab – Amnesty International In 1996 in response to two petitions filed in the Supreme Court containing allegations of human rights violations in Punjab, the Court ordered th National Human Rights Commission to examine the al… URL: http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/ENGASA200241999

    India: Will past human rights violations in Punjab remain forgotten? – Amnesty International Amnesty International (AI) is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights. URL: http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/ENGASA200291999

    India: Break the cycle of impunity and torture in Punjab – Amnesty International Torture and custodial violence continue to be regularly reported in Punjab, despite the end of the militancy period in the state in the mid-1990s. In this report Amnesty International makes the …

    India: AI membership expresses solidarity to the families of the disappeared in Punjab – Amnesty International There is no abstract for this document URL: http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/ENGASA200052003

    India: Fear of torture/Fear for safety – Amnesty International Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of at least 100 individuals including social activists, human rights defenders and lawyers in Punjab. Some are being illegally detained in connect… URL: http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/ENGASA200022004

    India : Fear of torture/fear for safety of Rajiv Singh – Amnesty International Rajiv Singh, a key witness in the trial of police officers accused of abducting a human rights activist has been arrested by Punjab police. Amnesty International fears this is an attempt to prevent … URL: http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/ENGASA200482000

    India: A Mockery of Justice: The case concerning the “disappearance” of human rights defender Jaswant Singh Khalra severely undermined – Amnesty International This brief report documents the means used by accused police officers, including delay of proceedings and intimidation of witnesses, in their search of impunity for the ‘disappearance’ of Jaswant … URL: http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/ENGASA200071998

    Human Rights Watch

    Letter from Human Rights Watch to the National Human Rights Commission of India

    On the upcoming decision in the Punjab mass secret cremations case As the National Human Rights Commission prepares to issue a decision in the Punjab mass secret cremations case, we urge the Commission to order a full accounting of the systematic abuses that occurred in Punjab, determine liability after detailed investigations into the violations, and provide for compensation for surviving family members based on a detailed understanding of the scope of violations suffered by each individual.

    Other Screams of Terror By Meenakshi Ganguly, Human Rights Watch researcher Published in The Asian Age People who lived through 1984 in Delhi are unlikely to forget the horrors. After years of inquiries, commissions, accusations and denials, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has, last month, expressed regret for the horrifying anti-Sikh riots that followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi, saying that, “I have no hesitation in apologising not only to the Sikh community but the whole Indian nation because what took place in 1984 is the negation of the concept of nationhood and what is enshrined in our Constitution.”

    India: Justice Eludes Families of the “Disappeared” in Punjab … “Ending state impunity for abuses in Punjab must become a priority. … We hope it will do the same in Punjab.” Smita Narula, senior researcher for South … http://www.hrw.org/press/2003/06/india061003.htm

  52. KSingh — on 26th October, 2007 at 12:34 pm  

    Some information on the Sarkar Khalsa (Khalsa state) that existed until annexed by the British in 1849.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikh_Confederacy

  53. Mangles — on 28th October, 2007 at 2:09 am  

    It wasn’t an understatement when Sunny started this thread by noting that ‘I also want to clarify my own stance on this issue. While I have been dismissive of Sikh separatists and Khalistanis generally . . .’

    Sunny in an earlier thread you had said:

    ‘Sikh militancy in Punjab wasn’t killed off just by placating the Khalistanis. They actively went after the trouble-makers and took them out. Once you no longer have the trouble-makers who will use any excuse to create a schism, then we can have a sane conversation.’ http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/1208

    ‘Took them out’vis-a vis false encounters? Exactly what Human Rights Watch want investigated and former police officers such as KPS Gill, CBI and other state agencies are preventing.

    This is precisely the point made in my earlier post that many people were all too ready to turn a blind eye to hundreds and thousands of Sikhs innocently killed in India for supporting or sympathising with the notion of Khalistan or for simply being innocent bystanders at the wrong place at the wrong time. And no one had the conviction other than people like Sikh Federation etc (whether you like or not what they stand for politically) to take on the might of a system corrupt to the core.

    Sunny please explain your previous comments in light of this report and thread and mounting evidence of illegal extra judicial processes by police and state agencies who ‘actively went after (KILLED) the trouble-makers (INNOCENT BY STANDERS, POLITICAL ACTIVISTS AS WELL AS SOME MILITANTS) and took them out’ (EXTRA JUDICIALLY & ILLEGALLY as judge, jury and executioner).

    When you said ‘then we can have a sane conversation’ were you suggesting that the state and its security agencies can use any means necessary to restore the
    status quo? Are thse the standards of progressive politics we should adopt in our pursuit of freedom of thought, speech and expression?

    Rab Rakha

  54. Sunny — on 28th October, 2007 at 5:37 am  

    Mangles, the report points out that:

    Beginning in the 1980s, Sikh separatists in Punjab committed serious human rights abuses, including the massacre of civilians, attacks upon Hindu minorities in the state, and indiscriminate bomb attacks in crowded places.

    Hope you didn’t miss that bit. Plenty of innocent Sikhs were killed, there is no doubt about that. But not all of them by just the Indian government – try and remember that.

    No, the state should not use “any means necessary” to restore the status quo. I’ve never supported that stance. But not all of the trouble-makers were “innocent bystanders” as you claim.

  55. Mangles — on 28th October, 2007 at 12:52 pm  

    Sunny

    Firstly I didn’t say they were all innocent bystanders. Please read my post. I hav read this and various other Human Rights reports on Punjab and rest of India.

    Secondly that doesn’t mean that the non-innocent protagonsist does not have any rights. E.g some had no doubt committed excesses, but once arrested shouldn’t they have been brought to the courts instead of being killed extra judicially?

    You seem to still be suggesting that if you support Khalistan politically this is still not an innocent and legitimate aspiration. Is that really your view?

    The extra-judicial killing of Sikh activists, for example the bullet for bullet policy pursued by police in Indian state agencies and their criminal agents- ‘black cats’ (taking out as you seem to have called it and supported) has no means of either discriminating between the innocent bystander and militant, nor the legitimate political activist.

    Why do you appear to have such hatred for people who even legitimately support Khalistan to the extent that there seems to be a denial of their rights to freedom of expression and self determination?

  56. Mangles — on 28th October, 2007 at 1:03 pm  

    Sunny

    Going back to your earlier comments you appear to even portray a denial of the right to life for people holding such political views. I don’t wish to misquote you and thus seek clarification.

    The reason I labour on this point, and I apologise for this, is that this is the very cause of the denial of justice to so many innocent bystanders and political activists as well as families of miltants extra-judicially killed in Punjab and other parts of India. Too few people and willing to scrutinise the reasons why so many were killed in such a relatively short period of time.

    Rab Rakha

  57. Sunny — on 28th October, 2007 at 3:10 pm  

    you appear to even portray a denial of the right to life for people holding such political views.

    No I don’t. I think Khalistanis are deluded and naive (and sometimes dangerous) but I’d never deny them the right to live. I just don’t want them claiming to be representing all Sikhs in this country or all over the world. But there’s no doubt many of tyhe Khalistanis around in India during the 80s and 90s were trouble-makers and involved in killing of innocent people.

  58. Mangles — on 28th October, 2007 at 6:41 pm  

    ‘But there’s no doubt many of tyhe Khalistanis around in India during the 80s and 90s were trouble-makers and involved in killing of innocent people.’ Who says that they were involved in killing of innocent people? Yes there are independent reports which identify specific incidents and killings, and I totally agree that some groups and individuals were clearly involved in such acts. But clearly from the demsity of death in that period surely they couldn’t have all been involved in such violence. If even half of those killed (appox 1 lakh) had been involved in violence (i take it that is who you mean by troublemakers, not simply because they had views that you don’t agree with), Punjab would not have seen an insurgency but civil war.

    In light of the Human Rights Watch and Ensaaf report do you still stand by the following statement :

    ‘Sikh militancy in Punjab wasn’t killed off just by placating the Khalistanis. They actively went after the trouble-makers and took them out. Once you no longer have the trouble-makers who will use any excuse to create a schism, then we can have a sane conversation.’ http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/1208

    Do you agree with the methods adopted in Punjab by which people were illegally and arbitrarily identified as ‘troublemakers’and taken out i.e. killed extra-judicially to create a climate to ‘have a sane conversation’?

    Rab Rakha

  59. Sunny — on 28th October, 2007 at 11:48 pm  

    Who says that they were involved in killing of innocent people?

    The above report does.

  60. Mangles — on 29th October, 2007 at 10:02 pm  

    Sunny

    I have already acknowledged that. The point that I was making was (admittedly not very clearly!!) many human rights reports have also said that the Kahlistani militants weren’t responsible for many deaths that were attribute to them.

    BTW You are selective in answering questions. You’re not a pXXXXXXXXX are you? So in true Jeremy Paxman style…..

    In light of the Human Rights Watch and Ensaaf report do you still stand by the following statement :

    ‘Sikh militancy in Punjab wasn’t killed off just by placating the Khalistanis. They actively went after the trouble-makers and took them out. Once you no longer have the trouble-makers who will use any excuse to create a schism, then we can have a sane conversation.’ http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/1208

    Do you agree with the methods adopted in Punjab by which people were illegally and arbitrarily identified as ‘troublemakers’and taken out (i.e. killed extra-judicially) to create a climate to ‘have a sane conversation’, as you put it.

    Don’t mean to be a troublemaker. lol.

  61. Sunny — on 29th October, 2007 at 11:21 pm  

    Do you agree with the methods adopted in Punjab by which people were illegally and arbitrarily identified as ‘troublemakers’and taken out (i.e. killed extra-judicially) to create a climate to ‘have a sane conversation’, as you put it.

    No, I’ve never agreed with extra-judicial killings, but I also believe that ‘taking out’ (apprehending, trials etc) was necessary despite all the accusations that the state just wanted to go after any Khalistani.

  62. nobody hero — on 30th October, 2007 at 12:09 am  

    I dont believe in the extra judicial killings but the taking out were also neccesary in el salvador chile colombia and many more peasant ran banana republics

  63. sonia — on 30th October, 2007 at 1:17 am  

    Oh. right. and you lot think there is no ‘torture’ involved in this ‘taking out’ business – in a country like India?

    well you lot have a funny idea of human rights if that is the case!! or clearly never spent any time in an Indian prison, or had much to do with the indian police.

    face it, human rights abuses in india are all over the f***ing place, where to start is the hard one.

  64. sonia — on 30th October, 2007 at 1:17 am  

    India’s shame in India this post should be retitled methinks

  65. Mangles — on 30th October, 2007 at 12:45 pm  

    More excuses for the way India (the worlds largest democracy lol) restricts democracy then Sonia – just the way it is so accept it!!

    Lets be honest Sunny taking out in Punjab has never been about ‘apprehending or trial etc’, you know that. It goes much further and as Sonia comments if we ‘think there is no ‘torture’ involved in this ‘taking out’ business – in a country like India? …. face it, human rights abuses in india are all over the f***ing place’

    Lets wake up and smell the coffee – taking out has been about literally taking out, i.e. captivity, torture ransom from family, and extra-judicial killing. Usually some sort of combination of the above. But because in Punjab the victims were Khalistani to many peeople it didn’t really matter the desired outcome was extra judicial killing.

    For the past two decades, thousands of people who sympathised, protested against police atroctities, provided shelter to families of police targets, were an aquaintance of or related to Khalistanis were simply ‘taken out’ extra judicially. This was all part of a strategy to imbibe a state of fear to create a climate wherein the so called intelligentia could ‘have a sane conversation’, as you put it.

    Guantanemo, in comparison, is a much milder form of ‘taking out’ (let me clarify: Guantanemo is inexcusable: I only say milder because the captives there are known to be STILL ALIVE and in whatever minimal form it is provided, have realised legal or other representation which means they will have to be accounted for). Regardless of what political ideology those captives stand for, it is becoming apparent that many if not all are probably innocent of any crime, as has been the legal conclusion thus far for the foreign nationals freed. The difference with Pubjab in the 80′s and 90′s is that the opportunity was not afforded to draw such a conclusion. In Guantanemo those that have been freed had access to legal or other representation whereas in Punjab seldom did the captives make it to court.

    Sunny, I can’t believe that you’ve suggested people get on the bandwagon of human rights in Punjab so that Khalistanis don’t politicise a human rights situation that only exacerbated to restrict the political movement they were part of.

    Too litte, too late, for the wromg intentions!!

    If there are people who really care about human rights they should be interested despite or regardless of what people with opposing political views are commenting. It should be a principled stand. I didn’t start supporting the war in Iraq simply because Islamic propagandists and anarchists were opposing it. However, the so called progressives have stood by and watched the demise of human rights in Punjab because they did not agree with the ideology of the people who were being ‘taken out’.

    Rab Rakha.

  66. Dalbir — on 1st November, 2007 at 9:00 pm  

    Glad you took a more balanced stance Sunny and please don’t label people concerned about human rights abuses in the Punjab as “Sikh nutters” in future.

    Like yourself I have no time for narrow minded, pindu, dogmatic, casteist and morally corrupt jerks posing as Sikhs for their own selfish ends but lets not let these morons detract from the real issues that need to be addressed.

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